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Beyonce at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Beyonce at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Photo by Cliff Lipson / CBS
Culture > Entertainment

“If that ain’t country, tell me what is?”

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

Music Review: Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter

Beyoncé released her highly anticipated country album, Cowboy Carter, on March 29, 2024. It is her continuation of her trilogy of albums, with the full title being, “act ii Cowboy Carter.”The first two singles to release, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 CARRIAGES” have charted at No. 1 and No. 9 respectively on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. The Texas native ties in her roots with Alabama and Louisiana and gives respects to other artists within her songs.

Beyoncé’s new album transcends genre while paying tribute to traditional country music. The album itself is unmistakably a Beyoncé album, she has the ability to switch genres and still have a unique incorporation of her own personal style. At first glance, it would appear as a strange career choice as she had already had a well established hand in pop music, however it was a meticulously crafted and researched album. She wanted to bring light to the strong exclusion that Black artists, especially women, face in the country music genre as well as pay homage to artists that had major influence.

General Flow

Cowboy Carter is the perfect combination of vulnerability and dance songs. Beyoncé does an incredible job of adding enough of emotional appeal while breaking it up with songs that feel truly country. On her Instagram account, she took a moment to explain the album and its concepts, which is rare in her career. She is known for letting the music speak for itself, however within this post, she is quoted saying, “My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant.” This goes to show the personal significance this album has to her, as well as makes a statement on the exclusion that many Black artists, including her, have faced in country music. At the end of the post, she further states, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album.” While there are strong roots within traditional country music, it is still her own and has influences from a multitude of genres.


Beyoncé is no stranger to collaborations on her albums, almost all of her albums contain at least one collaboration with another artists (with the exception of I AM… SASHA FIERCE). Cowboy Carter contains both works with very established country artists, as well as some artists most known for other styles.

“BLACKBIIRD” contains a collaboration with country artists, Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. Their harmonies come together to create a haunting melody reflecting the original meaning of the Lennon-McCartney song. Paul McCartney is quoted in his biography, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now, “I had in mind a Black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a Black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope'”. She took a song that was rooted in the civil rights era and sang it with fellow Black country artists, which serves a testament of her power and reclamation of the genre from those who try to exclude her and others. The historical significance of the song being sung by those it was written for makes it all the more powerful.

Her daughter, Rumi Carter, is featured at the the beginning of “PROTECTOR”, which adds a further emotional appeal to the song. It gives the listener a sense of connection to her story, as well as an ability to experience the childhood innocence through her daughter’s eyes. It is the sense of vulnerability and care that she has towards her daughter and a way to add in her family to her music in a unique way.

In terms of renowned country artists, she added speaking interludes from Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Linda Martell. This is significant because there have been many highly regarded artists that have spoken out against Beyoncé for using country in her album and with the music she has released. This shows the nod to traditional artists, while also representing their support for her. She gives a special nod to Linda Martell, who faced a similar criticism for making country music that Beyoncé did. At the beginning of her song, “SPAGHETTII”, she has a clip of Linda Martell stating, “Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they?” which furthers the point that artists are allowed to switch genres, experiment, and appreciate different styles of music. Artistic expression is all about representing oneself in a way that is true.

She also features artists Shaboozy, Willie Jones, Miley Cyrus, and Post Malone. These were all a surprise, as it had all been kept under wraps. Miley Cyrus started in the genre of country, however has now been well established with pop music, recently winning her first Grammy for her song “Flowers.” Her contributions to the album were surprising, however necessary. The duo harmonizes creating a salute to female support. Shaboozy was also a surprise as he is primarily known for hip-hop and rap. Post Malone has been a pop artist, however made statements that he is going to release a country album. All collaborations added to the album in different ways that made it all the more intentional and thought out.

miley cyrus and dolly parton
Vijat Mohindra/NBC


There are two covers on the album, both of extremely popular songs that have both cultural significance and impact on their respective genres.

Beyoncé did a brilliant cover of the Beatles song, “Blackbird,” with the minor change of title “BLACKBIIRD.” Her cover is both a testament to its historical meaning as well as a powerful collaboration with multiple artists.

Her second cover is “Jolene,” which was originally a song written and performed by Dolly Parton about a woman who was flirting with her husband. There is an interlude place directly before this song, which has Dolly Parton introducing it and stating at the end, “Just a hair of a different color but it hurts just the same.” Beyoncé took creative liberties with the lyrics and changed them to be more relevant towards her own life and experiences. The message of the song remains the same, however the approach to it alters to be more of Beyoncé’s perspective.

The chorus in the original goes as follows: “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene Please don’t take him just because you can.”

The new take on the lyrics states: “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene I’m warnin’ you, woman, find your own man Jolene, I know I’m a queen, Jolene I’m still a Creole banjee bitch from Louisiane (Don’t try me).”

The entire song appears to be a reflection on the the affair that Jay Z had on Beyoncé, which is also rumored to have influenced her album Lemonade. It is both a personal take while also paying homage to the original groundbreaking song.

Final Thoughts

The second installment or act ii of the trilogy of albums is a beautiful representation of country music. There is something on this album for people who like all different genres of music. While it is mainly country, there are also songs that could be considered fully a different genre.

Her vocal performance shows both her large range and shows off parts of her voice that have previously not been showcased. In the song, “DAUGHTER,” she reveals her operatic range through a a sample of the Italian aria, “Caro mio ben.” It is painfully beautiful and alluring. Her voice conveys an emotional range that is not often heard in country music. The entire feeling of the album gives the impression of flipping through a radio station while driving in Texas on a hot summer day. It both invokes feelings of patriotism as well as reclamation of what that can mean. It is giving credit to what country music was originally inspired by, which was traditions in the American South and rooted with Black artists. While it originally started as a reflection of being excluded from the genre, it has turned into proof that she is equally as talented and deserves to be celebrated in the genre. It is safe to say that Beyoncé does country well.

Rachel Meng is a current freshman at the University of Kansas majoring in Environmental Studies. She is a writer on the Her Campus chapter at KU. They are interested in journalism and love to write. Beyond Her Campus, Rachel one of the founding exec board members of the My Feminist Campus chapter at KU, serving as the Social Media Coordinator. In high school, she was active in theater, band, choir, and DECA. They attended the International Conference in DECA two years in a row and placed in the top 20. In their free time, Rachel enjoys to crochet, read and sing. She loves finding local coffee places to try. Rachel enjoys all things theater and loves musicals. After graduating, they do not have a career plan, however they would love to have a career in journalism focusing on environmental issues.